Coming back to the Church is always as easy as opening the confessional door. You know you need healing from God and you need to trust his plan for you…
In the case of the two of you, you need to trust his plan for sex and marriage. The relationship may be amazing, but if it’s not being lived the way God intends it to be lived, it won’t be as amazing as it ought to be.
But maybe in the case of your own personal life, you need the strength to trust that priesthood will bring you to the greatest fulfillment possible. Believe me, it happens!
First things first. First put the brakes on the sexual activity. Then get some personal guidance on your vocation and what it seems God’s calling you to. (A first step can be to do so in the privacy of confession, if you don’t already have a priest you know and trust enough to be open with.) Then you’ll have clarity about whether the relationship is helping or hindering that right now. But you’re not going to be able to get that clarity until you start just saying no.
The good thing about living here in NY is that there are plenty of experienced priests around who are able to counsel you.
May God bless you abundantly as you struggle to follow him!
- Father Shane
Amazing! Well, we’ll see where Our Lord leads you in the goodness of his Plan.
I can guarantee that, so long as you continue to go out with your girlfriend and discern at the same time, you’ll continue to be pulled in two directions at once. It’s just the way the heart works. Are you willing to ask her for some “time off” in order to clear your mind and your heart of affections that can make God’s will seem fuzzy and out of focus? I know that sounds very tough and even unfair to her, but dating means discerning more than possessing: if she really wants what’s best for you, this will be painful for her for now, but she’ll be able to understand and let go.
Regarding your family, that’s a huge cross, definitely. I would love to put you in touch with a seminarian I know who is studying in Rome and is very close to ordination who went through a very similar situation. I’ll bet his experience would benefit you a lot. If you want to message me privately (non-anonymously), I can send you his email…
Definitely you might also benefit from this article about some other things you’ll want to be doing.
May God bless you abundantly as you seek his Will!
- Father Shane
It’s not a problem that you love her; actually, if you’re called to be a priest, you’re called to love everybody. It’s just a matter of putting it in perspective.
It’s also a matter of getting used to that constant training to not let the enemies of your soul use your desires as temptations that become leverage against you and your calling. In particular, their strategy will work against your impressions of how you’re “doing” in your love for God… that a momentary memory flash somehow ruined your relationship with God for the day. Hardly! Just use the moment to recommit and say, “Lord, I love you so much, I obeyed when you asked me to leave behind someone so beautiful! Bless her, make her happy, and help me to love and serve you and all your people as you desire!”
God bless you!
- Father Shane
Well, put yourself in her shoes, and replace “thinking about going to the seminary” with “in love with another girl.” If you develop a relationship with her and then break it off, couldn’t she rightly accuse you of just selfishly toying with her emotions because you were really in love with someone else the whole time?
So it’s probably a good moment to think deeply about why you want to go out with her and what you’re really after. Sounds like you owe it to both her, yourself, and God, and that you’re probably being called right now to strengthen a love (if indeed priesthood is your calling) rather than developing a new competing one.
May God bless you and give you strength in your decision!
- Father Shane
Thanks for your question – you made me think of my childhood! There definitely were some moments that I wanted to be a boy instead of a girl. :) I envied my brothers who were altar servers, and many times wished that I could be a priest. Seriously, how awesome that vocation is!! Before answering your question though, I want to share something with you that I have learned in my experience. God, as our Creator, made us to fulfill a particular mission in this life and He gave us certain characteristics, talents, or qualities with which to do so. Obviously some talents or characteristics are greater or more significant than others, but I believe that God thought of each one specifically for each person. Now, it often happens that we don’t always like what we have received. In your case, you aren’t happy with your gender. Well, some people don’t like their noses or eyes or toes or skin tone….etc. I recently heard a story about a girl who always wished that she had blue eyes (she had dark brown ones). She was never happy with her eyes until one day, while doing mission work in India, she was asked to help rescue infants who were being sacrificed in a temple in an isolated village. The only way to rescue these babies was to dress as rich Muslim women and stand outside the temple and offer to buy the babies instead of having them taken into the temple. One of the other missionaries helped her disguise herself and commented “good thing you don’t have blue eyes, because it would be a dead giveaway.” She finally realized that God had thought of every detail when He created her – even the color of her eyes. Well, maybe that’s kind of a simple example, but I want to challenge you to find out why God gave you your femininity and created you as a woman.
I understand that giving up a dream or something that you really value can be hard. The Catholic Church for 2000 years has been faithful to the tradition of only ordaining men to the priesthood. Christ was a man. Each ordained priest becomes “another Christ” and acts in His name; therefore, only men are priests. (For a more complete explanation of this point, check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1577 – 1578 and a document written by Pope John Paul II ) Even if you decided to have a “sex change” you would not truly be a man. Doctors may be able to change your external appearance and your reproductive organs, but that is basically only like changing your “accessories.” The core of your being is impossible to change. Your way of thinking and expressing yourself, your psychology, your affective and emotional characteristics – all these would still remain female! If you like deep reading, check out a book titled “The Female Brain.” In spite of the small physical changes that you could make, you would always be a woman. So, sincerely, take a moment to consider what God thought of when He created you as a woman. There are many things that women CAN do that men cannot. I believe that God has an amazing and unique mission for you as a woman if you are daring enough to discover what it is.
God bless you and count on my prayers!
Well, you’ll get a whole lot of help with that come August, but here are some random ideas that might help you develop some sort of practical resolution:
So those are very random things. The big picture is to grow in the natural spontaneous friendship with him, seeking to lovingly desire to do his will through the day. All of what’s above are just means to grow in that friendship.
God bless you, and I’ll pray for you at our Eucharistic Hour tonight!
- Father Shane
The North American College’s soccer team just qualified for the Clericus Cup finals…
If you don’t know what that means, read this…